In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 2, 2007 / 14 Nissan, 5767

Spare me the politics

By Jonathan Mark

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | At my Seder there will be no discussion or empty chairs for Darfur, gay marriage, global warming, abortion, Katrina, illegal aliens, Gaza settlements, Zimbabwe, Palestinian olive trees or the sinking of the Altalena.

We can talk about all that at Passover lunch, anytime after the Seder. But if Passover is so important that it must become a bleeding heart's Super Bowl, the repository of all that ails the world, then it's important enough to respect, beyond anything else, the Seder itself.

My idea of a Seder isn't the Village Voice and a kosher-style brisket.

The Seder already has a theme — Passover — and it doesn't need any help beyond that. The Seder celebrates an event of sufficient majesty and magnitude that it can and ought to stand alone, without political intrusions designed for the disinterested, not for the devoted.

On your wedding anniversary you don't buy flowers for other women.

At your Fourth of July barbecue you don't set up an empty chair to commemorate the rainforest.

On Thanksgiving, you don't talk about why Norwegians should give thanks.

Because on your anniversary, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, the mood and theme of the day is clear and sufficient, even to the most casual or political among us. Nothing speaks to the epidemic of Jewish confusion and spiritual anemia than the idea that the Seder — the most magical, cinematic, musical, mysterious, historical and child-friendly night of the year — is considered insufficient or unsatisfying as is.

We'll get back to outreach, pluralism and ecumenicism tomorrow. But tonight, stranger, you outreach to me. Tonight, you figure me out. On the Seder night, let's focus on the Jew within. This night is about how we left Egypt. This is the "night of watching," remembering what G-d did for us on that long-ago night of chills.

As is, a good solid Seder — filled with commentary, children passing along insights they learned at school, numerous musical interludes and reflection on our national birth and liberation — should take us from early evening until the wee hours of the morning.

It's long enough. You really, really want to talk about how much the American refusal to sign the Kyoto Treaty reminds you of babies thrown in the Nile? Fine. We'll talk about it at lunch. The tragedy of Darfur will still be around on the afternoon after the Seder and you can commemorate it then.

Or will you be gone by then?

Sometimes, even in this self-indulgent era, Judaism isn't about you. It's not about me. The Seder asks that we be about the Seder.

Everyone is welcome to come to the Seder, not to hijack it.

A Seder can be hijacked by the arrogance of political advocates who think their causes are too obvious for anyone to dispute. Remember, the Seder often has many guests and family members of diverse backgrounds and politics. In these very uncivil times, someone who disagrees with us politically is all too often called "an idiot," or worse. The Seder's spirituality can be punctured by someone like TV host Bill Maher, who said that he hopes the president dies. Your uncle's fourth wife, the one you don't really know, could be waiting to unleash some Ann Coulter or Rosie O'Donnell broadsides. Or, worst of all, someone who was engrossed by the Seder is now less engaged by your soapbox and is intimidated into silence, alienated from a Seder that was doing just fine a minute ago.

You may think global warming is a perfectly reasonable topic to bring up at a Seder. After all, it's a "planetary emergency," says Al Gore. But writing in The Boston Globe, columnist Ellen Goodman says that "global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers," and maybe you have an Auschwitz survivor at your table who doesn't think its on a par and is profoundly wounded by the very idea.

The New York Times Science section recently reported that "scientists argue that some of Mr. Gore's central points are exaggerated and erroneous." Well, if some at the Seder believe as strongly as Goodman and some believe as strongly as the Science Times experts, and if that survivor is painfully distracted, the Seder can get ugly in a hurry, completely unmoored from its spiritual plane and the subject at hand — the Haggadah. Remember the Haggadah?

Hey, pal. Yeah you, the one who wanted to make the Seder relevant. You just turned the Seder into something divisive, something about you. Thanks, but no thanks.

It's not a chance worth taking.

Long after the Seder we can read the morning paper and think about the distance between the Haggadah's promise and the day's front page. The Haggadah is eternal; the front page comes and goes. William Faulkner said the past is never dead, it's not even past. I'm still leaving Egypt.

My Seder is timeless. It doesn't need help.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes uplifting stories. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

JWR Jonathan Mark is Associate Editor of The New York Jewish Week.

© 2007, NY Jewiush Week